Kayaking In Crystal River Florida

Canoes and Kayaks

Breathtaking cyan blue and green scenery that stretches over Crystal River is ambiance you shouldn’t miss if you enjoy kayaking or spending days in peaceful, enjoyable settings. Kayaking in Crystal River is especially pleasant in the winter when the water is crystal clear and you can see manatees during their season (which starts in November). The Crystal River/Kings Bay is located in Citrus County, approximately 60 miles north of Tampa, Florida.

Let’s break down some of the best spots to kayak in Crystal River and places for kayak rentals.

Kayaking The Kings Bay

The second-largest springs group in Florida known as Kings Bays is the headwaters of the Crystal River. This beautiful place has more than 70 springs, and is home to around 800 manatees during winter. Sitting 6 miles from The Gulf of Mexico, Kings Bay’s fresh body of water mixes with tidal waters from the Gulf.

There are many activities you can do at Kings Bay, but one of the activities tourists and locals enjoy the most is kayaking on Crystal River. Kayaking is delightful around the shoreline of Kings Bay, near the springs, and towards the Gulf. You’ll enjoy the view of clear water and numerous manatees.

It’s best to book kayaks in advance, especially on weekends. There are many places where you can rent and book kayaks in the area but you can also bring your own kayak as well.

Crystal River Kayak Rentals

The Bird’s Underwater is one of the best known for kayak rental in Crystal River.
They run kayaks from 9 am to 1 pm, and again from 1 pm to 5 pm. The cost of renting the single-seat kayak is $35 and for a two-seat kayak, it’s $45. A stand up paddle board (SUP) will set you back $40.  For nature-relatedness and meeting the underwater life at Crystal River, they offer tours such as Manatee Tours, Scalloping Tours, and Dive Tours.

Single-seat kayaks at Crystal River Kayak Co. & Dive Center range depending on the duration you want: for 3 hours, it’s $39, for 5 hours it’s $49, and for the whole day it’s $59. As for double seat kayaks, the price goes up to $10 for mentioned arrangements. Tours available include Kayak Eco Swim Tour, Clear Kayak Adventure Tour, Chassahowitzka & “The Crack”, Kings Bay Tour, and Sunset Tour. The prices range from $60 to $99 per person and the tours lasts up to three hours.

You can also check out Paddles Outdoor Rentals. They rent kayaks, paddleboards, water bikes, and more. They offer 2 hour rentals (with prices ranging $35 – $45), 3 hour ($45 – $50), 4 hour ($50 – $60), full-day ($55 – $65), two Day ($95 – $105), and weekly rentals (prices ranging $175 – $195). With two-day and weekly rentals, you can get free delivery and pickup in Crystal River. 

Paddles Outdoor Rentals will make your kayaking in Crystel River even more memorable, with their Swim with Manatees Tour or with their amazing Clear Kayak Manatee Viewing Tour.

kayaking places near me
"Three Sisters Springs (Citrus County, FL)" by systemslibrarian is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Three Sisters Springs

If you’ve ever been kayaking in Florida or anywhere on the East Coast, you’ve probably heard of Three Sisters Springs. These springs are located on the east side of Kings Bay and they are a part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refugee. Three Sisters Springs is open for kayaking from May 1st to November 15th. 

The constant temperature of the water is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If you enjoy swimming, that’s ideal to cool down in summer, and to stay warm in winter.

Located in the heart of Kings Bay, Three Sisters Springs is the natural miracle and the must- see of the area. You can start kayaking at Hunter Springs Park and then paddle your way to Three Sisters Springs. Distance from the launch point to the destination is about 1.10 miles. It’s suitable for beginners, however it’s best if you can try to avoid windy weather days.

You can book kayaks at Hunter Spring Kayaks – and if you are interested, they offer tours as well. They offer 3 hour ($42 – $55), 5 hour ($52 – $65) and 8 hour kayak rentals ($62 – $80). But also, Multi-Day kayak rentals ($80 – $150), as well as 1-hour ($10 per person) and 2- hour Festival Rentals ($20). There is a Guided Eco-Tour of King’s Bay to experience thenatural beauties and wildlife of this area which costs $65 per person and is free for kids under the age of 6. Check out their Private Guided Eco-Tour as well.

Feel free to look into Captain’s Mike Kayak Academy. They offer 4 hours rentals, which price’s range from $35 to $55, as well as 8 hours rentals costing from $45 to $65. Their Swimming with the Manatees tour will let you swim with these magnificent creatures, starting from $45 per person to $100,

Rainbow River

Don’t hesitate to visit nearby area and try kayaking there. The first on the list is Rainbow River in Dunnellon. Dunnellon is about 20 minutes driving distance from Kings Bay. There are a few great spots for launching kayaks here including Rainbow Springs State Park Headsprings or Rainbow River State Park Campground. 

This park is a touristic attraction with waterfalls, long bridges and gardens. There are multiple kayak rentals in the area, including Visit Rainbow Springs (find the contact on the website and make a call to find out possible activities and arrangements) or Rainbow River Kayak (the prices range from $25 to $60).

There is a fascinating route launching at Dunnellon public boat ramp on the west side of Route 41 and finishing at crystal clear Lake Roussea. Kayaking this route, you’ll see Rainbow Springs and enjoy the peacefulness that starts once you pass Dunnellon. Search Rainbow River Kayak as well, to find relevant information for kayak rentals.

The K.P. Hole County Park which offers kayak rentals from $25 to $70 (and yes, they offer tours as well!) is a perfect spot for family time: restroom and picnic tables to make a break and enjoy the scenery.

Visitors may launch their own canoes and kayaks from the headsprings launch area, but be prepared to cart your boat around 600 yards from the parking lot as there’s no vehicle access to the river within the park.

Chassahowitzka River

Also, close to Crystal River is a Chassahowitzka River, approximately 23 minutes drive, down around Homosassa. This can be a wonderful experience for beginner kayakers. Many say that you shouldn’t miss a chance kayaking at the river, as it’s so isolated and peaceful. The calm water is surrounded with red maple trees, cabbage palms, cypress trees, saw grass and sweetgum trees. Book kayaks at Chassahowitzka River Campgrounds ($30 – $45).

Animal Life You Can See Kayaking in Crystal River

The wildlife inhabitants of the Crystal River area is one of the many reasons that attract tourists to kayak in Kings Bay each year, and rightfully so! Besides manatees, there is a rich marine life including dolphins and otters, along with turtles and several species of endangered birds.

As with every other body of fresh water in Florida, Crystal River has alligators. That being said, they will generally stay in the more swampy, much less traveled areas, rarely where you will kayak or go to swimming with manatees.

Kayak crystal river manatees

Kayaking With The Manatees Florida

As manatees are sensitive to cold water, they find a home in Crystal River’s warmer waters from November to May. You can enjoy swimming with manatees or just viewing them from the distance. Be aware that while kayaking in Crystal River, you can’t chase manatees or hold, grab, pinch or poke them. It’s also illegal to feed them, disturb or annoy them in any way including excessive splashing. 

Check out some other great locations to kayak with Manatees.

Conservation is a top priority at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and in Kings Bay, which was designated a Manatee Protection Area called the Kings Bay Manatee Refuge.

Besides spending your time to kayak Crystal River area there are many other fun activities to try including tubing, canoeing, snorkelling, stand up board paddling, hiking natural trails, picnicking as well as wildlife viewing! 

When kayaking in Florida, don’t forget to bring you sunscreen, a water bottle, bug spray and don’t forget to bring a camera/phone to capture all of those memories.

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